Anger at bonuses for rail disaster directors

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The Independent Online

The directors of the rail company Go-Ahead, whose Thames Trains franchise was at the centre of the Ladbroke Grove disaster, were awarded more than £100,000 in bonuses last year.

The directors of the rail company Go-Ahead, whose Thames Trains franchise was at the centre of the Ladbroke Grove disaster, were awarded more than £100,000 in bonuses last year.

Martin Ballinger, Go-Ahead's managing director, got £36,000, taking his annual pay to £209,000. Chris Moyes, commercial director, and Ian Butcher, finance director, got £34,000 and £32,000 respectively, Go-Ahead's annual report and accounts show.

Gerald Corbett, chief executive of Railtrack, waived his bonus last year "in light of the events of the year and his position in the industry". Other Railtrack directors accepted bonuses.

A Go-Ahead spokesman said the bonuses were related to the previous financial year, before the crash. A decision on whether to award bonuses for last year had not been made.

Thirty-one people died in the Ladbroke Grove disaster last October after a Thames Trains driver went through a red signal and hit a Paddington-bound Great Western express. Go-Ahead blamed Railtrack for the positioning of the signal and what it called the slow reactions of its signalmen.

The Go-Ahead group chairman, Sir Frederick Holliday, was awarded a 43 per cent pay rise, taking his remuneration to £46,000, though he admitted he was "shocked and dismayed by this tragic event".

Vernon Hince, assistant general secretary of the RMT rail union, called the bonuses "despicable", adding: "They are able to afford 17 per cent pay increases, but when you ask them to install the best safety systems such as automatic train protection it is a different story entirely."

The firm, which also owns the Thameslink franchise and two of London's red bus companies, has rejected a 650p-a-share (£326m) takeover bid from the French group C3D as "derisory, pathetic, opportunistic and wholly inadequate".

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